Melilotus officinalis

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Melilotus officinalis
Melilotus officinalis 002.JPG
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Trifolieae
Genus: Melilotus
Species: M. officinalis
Binomial name
Melilotus officinalis
(L.) Pall.

Melilotus officinalis, known as yellow sweet clover, yellow melilot, ribbed melilot[1] and common melilot is a species of legume native to Eurasia and introduced in North America, Africa and Australia.


Melilotus officinalis is biennial plant is 4–6 feet (1.2–1.8 m) high at maturity. The plant has a bitter taste.

It blooms in spring and summer. Flowers are yellow. Its characteristic sweet odor, intensified by drying, is derived from coumarin.


This plant is very common as it can adapt itself to various soils (but especially likes alkaline soils) and climates. It is resistant to drought and has abundant seed production. In some habitats it is an invasive species. Common places where it can be found include prairies, abandoned fields, roadsides, and railroad ballasts. It does not tolerate dense shade.


Sweet clover contains coumarin that converts to dicoumarol (a powerful anticoagulant toxin) when the plant becomes moldy. This can lead to bleeding diseases (internal hemorrhaging) and death in cattle. Consequently, hay containing the plant must be properly dried and cured, especially in wet environments.[2]


In the chemical industry, dicoumarol is extracted from the plant to produce rodenticides.[citation needed]


This plant is mainly used for agricultural purposes. It is grown as hay despite its toxic properties when moldy. It is considered an excellent green manure.

Sweet clover is a major source of nectar for domestic honey bees.

Flowers and seeds can be used as flavoring.[citation needed]


Melilotus officinalis has been used as a phytoremediation—phytodegradation plant for treatment of soils contaminated with dioxins. [3]


  1. ^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (XLS) on 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17. 
  2. ^ Nicole Kresge, Robert D. Simoni, and Robert L. Hill. "Hemorrhagic Sweet Clover Disease, Dicumarol, and Warfarin: the Work of Karl Paul Link". Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  3. ^ Sandia National Labs: SSFL Report; pg.10 . accessed 6.12.2012

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